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Biannual time change increases risk of workplace accidents

Madness is often defined as continuing to do the same thing over and over yet expecting a different result. In that sense, the twice-yearly American ritual of changing the time by one hour may qualify.

The multiple problems related to fatigue caused by disrupted sleep patterns are by now well documented. One of those problems is greater numbers of workplace accidents. In the Baltimore area and across the country, construction accidents, mining accidents and other work injuries tend to increase after the time changes that happen in the spring and the fall.

To be sure, the change is only one hour. But that is enough to disrupt the sleeping rhythms of vast numbers of people. And sleepy people are more likely to be injured on the job than well-rested people.

This is a phenomenon seen over and over again in highway accidents. Fatigued drivers, the research indicates, are as dangerous as drunk drivers.

There is also an overall economic cost to lost productivity caused by the time change. Researchers recently used data from the published studies to calculate something called the Lost-Hour Economic Index. The figure they come up with was $433,982.548 for 2010.

Obviously a sleepy worker is not as productive a worker. And a sleepy worker is also more at risk of getting into workplace accidents and suffering workplace injuries.

In short, shifting to or from so-called Daylight Savings Time comes at considerable cost. It certainly doesn't save money. And it makes it more likely that people will get hurt on the job and require workers' compensation.

Source: "U.S. economy lost $433,982,548 because of daylight saving time," smartplanet, Tuan C. Nguyen, 3-13-13

To learn more about our firm's practice, please visit our main workers' compensation page.

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